Clay Buchholz became the first major league pitcher to reach five wins on the year, going 7 2/3 innings for the Sox in a 7-2 win over the University of Houston Astros tonight at Fenway.
Buchholz was sharp for the most part, yielding both runs early before settling in and mowing down Houston. He once again notched 10 strikeouts, and used just 119 pitches to get all the way into the 8th inning. His ERA climbed to 1.19 on the year. I guess we can handle that.
I wasn't wild about Farrell trotting him out there for the 8th. Buchholz has pitched more than 92 innings just twice in six professional seasons (five if you want to discount three appearances in 2007) and is pretty slight of build. He's also battled consistency issues. I'd rather not take the chance that he's going to wear down by June or July and either lose his effectiveness or get a little dead arm going.
Three points of note about this game:
1. The Red Sox offense jumped on Astros starter Phillip Humber, scoring four runs in the 1st. It's kind of an obvious statement, but I love when teams can get out and score early. The inning was also a testament to the lineup's depth, as Pedroia, Ortiz, Carp, and Salty all got RBIs in the effort.
2. David Ortiz continued his hot hitting with three hits, including his first homer of the year. Off the bat it didn't look like he got all of it, but it just kept carrying out to dead-center. Also worth mentioning that Papi was moving decently on the bases. He's still the slowest guy on the team -- maybe even slower than ex-pat Adrian Gonzalez -- but he wasn't grimacing or hobbling as badly as he has been.
3. Daniel Bard made his first appearance of the year and was perfectly adequate. He gave up on hit -- a hard-hit ball to right field -- but didn't let things get carried away and finished it off. You can't have a much more easy-going situation in the majors than a non-save situation at home against the Astros, so it's good to see him be able to settle in and just focus on pitching.
The Sox climb to 15-7 on the year and continue hosting the Astros Saturday with Felix Doubront on the bump.